leave your inhibitions at the door
One of the first blogs I ever followed was Yinzerella’s retro-food extravaganza Dinner is Served 1972, which was her attempt to go through a set of index card recipes from that year. But it wasn’t food that we bonded over, it was our mutual love of professional football. Unfortunately, she’s a Steelers fan but we’re still buds despite that.
She sent me an email a month or so ago asking if I wanted to participate in the Third Annual Pieathalon.
It’s a celebration of all kinds of pie – sweet, savory, somewhere in between – where all kinds of good folk submit an old-school pie recipe, cook one assigned to them, and then post about it. I didn’t participate in the first two – I think because of my patented brand of laziness – but she still invited me this time. I think it’s either she forgot I was still on the distribution list or she was being super polite. Anyway, she caught me at a time where I had a ton of energy – enough to reply “yes.” That wore me out enough to where I barely got my pie done in time.
I instantly started to feel a whole bunch of remorse on the decision. First off, I’ve lately taken this whole lazy blogger thing to new depths. Second, as I’ve said before – I’m not a baker. In fact, I’m one of the worst. Ever. So the thought of failing at another crust really bummed me out.
Another reason I felt I was completely ill-suited for this celebration is that I’m not into retro-food. I like to think of it in musical terms – hearing The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” pop on the radio at an unexpected time can be a joyous experience for me. But for every great song like that, there are a dozen more like this –
My apologies if you’re one of those people who like this song when it comes on the radio. By the way, how is AM radio these days?
Then I thought maybe I’m being my usual pigheaded foodsnob. Who’s to say that there can’t be an incredible lost treasure of a recipe out there in some dusty, pre-internet cookbook?
So I decided to go for it.
The recipe I submitted was for Heidenische Kuchen. I chose it because it kinda sounded like “Hedonist” and it was retro. I mean really retro. As in it was from a cookbook from the Medieval Ages. My apologies to Kelly at The Velveteen Lounge Kitsch-en who had to make it.
The recipe I got back is for Fidget Pie and was submitted by Cathy who writes The Battenburg Belle from the way off, magical land of England. She got it from the Hamlyn All Colour Cook Book which was first published in 1970.
That’s probably the biggest reason why I’m not too fond of retro recipes – I was already alive by that point and it may just be that I’m only cool from a “golden oldies” standpoint.
As far as pies go, this is in the “somewhere in between savory and sweet” category. It has apples in it, so maybe it’s a dessert? But it also has bacon and onions. There isn’t a consensus on how the name came to be, but it was originally made during harvests to feed hungry workers. So I guess it’s savory?
Here’s the recipe she sent in –
1lb streaky bacon ( I used thick sliced bacon)
1lb cooking apples (I used Granny Smiths)
salt and pepper
½ pint cider
8oz plain flour
pinch of salt
4 oz butter
2 tbsp water
1 egg, beaten
1 – Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7.
2 – Remove rind from bacon and dice. Peel and chop onions. Core and chop apples. Mix well together and season. Put into a 2 pint pie dish and pour over the cider.
3 – Sieve together flour and salt. Rub in butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix with water to form a firm dough.
Roll out and cover pie. Make four cuts out out from the centre, about 3 inches long. Fold back the triangles of pastry to expose the filling. Roll out the trimmings and cut out crescents, using a fluted cutter. Brush with beaten egg and place around edge of the pastry.
4 – Brush pie with egg glaze and bad in a hot oven for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 and bake for a further 30 minutes until pastry is crisp and golden.
Some notes – I used Granny Smith apples and thick-sliced bacon. I also had to use way more than 2 Tablespoons of water for the dough. Maybe measuring spoons are like money and 2 Tablespoons went a whole lot further in 1970.
So here’s what the picture in the book looked like
And here’s how mine turned out.
I’m actually impressed that the crust was edible – a monstrous victory for me – and tasted good! The filling was also pretty tasty which, given that it contains a pound of bacon, is not surprising.
Is it supposed to be a soup? I went back to the instructions and re-read them several times to see if I missed a line for adding cornstarch or some thickener. Apples are juicy, and that juice has to go somewhere. And how was a worker supposed to eat the thing? There wasn’t a bottom crust (which would’ve been soaked anyway) so maybe with a spoon for the filling and dipping the crust like bread?
Well, the flavor combination did taste good and it sure was fun participating. From the emails that went back and forth, it sounds like a really fun group of people, so maybe there’s something to retro recipes.
I can’t wait to read some of the other submissions. Check ’em out –
Happy Pieathalon Day!